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92Y’s Adler On Medical Leave Amid Probe

Several employees terminated after letter alleged Y staff had extorted 'improper payments' from vendors.

07/16/13
Associate Editor
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In the midst of a kickback investigation at the 92nd Street Y in which several employees have been terminated, Sol Adler, the Upper East Side institution’s longtime executive director is away on medical leave, The Jewish Week has learned.

According to a source close to the situation, a committee of three executives — Deputy Executive Director Henry Timms, Human Resources Director Eric Lange and Finance/Administration Director Jim O’Hara — is taking on Adler’s duties in his absence.

Adler, whose compensation totaled $436,370 in 2011, the most recent year for which tax forms are available, has been with the Y since 1978 and its top executive since 1988. The Y website credits him with doubling the number of its programs, and raising more than $80 million.

An e-mail circulated to Y employees on Friday by Cliff Owusu, the manager of benefits, describes the kickback investigation but does not mention Adler, and does not identify the terminated employees.

According to the e-mail, which the Y’s director of media relations shared with The Jewish Week, the Y received an anonymous letter earlier this year “alleging that one of our managerial employees in the Facilities Department had demanded and received improper payments from 92Y vendors.”

The Y “immediately formed a special committee of directors and engaged an outside law firm to investigate the allegations,” which “produced evidence that the employee in question, whose employment ended before receipt of the anonymous letter, had engaged in improper conduct,” the e-mail says.

It notes that the employee’s severance and other benefits have been terminated, and “evidence concerning his misconduct has been disclosed to the appropriate authorities. 92Y will, of course, cooperate fully in any investigation of such misconduct.”

Although the evidence produced by the investigation pointed only to a single employee receiving improper payments, the e-mail says the Y “is taking appropriate steps, including the termination of several employees who were aware of or should have been aware of, but failed to report, improper conduct. In addition, 92Y is retaining an independent and outside accounting firm to ensure that it is compliant with best practices and controls in all aspects of its facilities purchasing and other operations.”

The e-mail notes that the improper conduct “has not had a material impact on 92Y’s financial condition, which is sounder than it has been in many years.”

Beverly Greenfield, the Y’s director of media relations, declined to comment or to confirm Adler’s current employment status, only referring The Jewish Week to the staff e-mail.

Stuart J. Ellman, the Y’s president, did not return a call seeking comment.

The kickback investigation comes just months after the Y announced it would close its multimillion-dollar Tribeca facility, which it had opened in 2007. That move has spurred Lower Manhattan Development Corporation President David Emil to demand the Y return one-third of a $1.5 million grant it received for the facility, according to the Tribeca Trib.

The Y is one of the largest and oldest Jewish community centers in North America and is known internationally for its extensive cultural programming.

julie.inthemix@gmail.com; @julie_wiener
 

Last Update:

11/10/2013 - 17:32

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The e-mail notes that the improper conduct “has not had a material impact on 92Y’s financial condition, which is sounder than it has been in many years.

Ah, the 92nd St. Y was my first experience living in NYC, met my best friends there while working at the United Nations. In fact, as the Soviet Emigres started coming in the late 1980s and early 1990s it was my pleasure to organize a welcome program there with Sol's help. The 92nd St. Y is a wonderful institution and although I've not been back for a few years, this episode pains me for the good things the Y has accomplished and what it means to the community. Hopefully this issue will be quickly resolved and the organization can get back on track to provide more benefits and a positive contribution to all involved.

After the anti-Israel speakers the 92nd Street Y has hosted, they deserve it!

"The e-mail notes that the improper conduct 'has not had a material impact on 92Y’s financial condition, which is sounder than it has been in many years.' ” If this soundness exists, why has the Tribeca site, a popular and busy venue, been closed down? Thus putting a lot of people out of work....

92nd Street Y fired an employee upon receiving evidence that proved improper conduct (embezzlement). For reasons only known to 92nd Street Y, they then paid this employee severance and benefits. Perhaps the real story begins somewhere with the question, "Why would 92nd Street Y initially give severance and benefits to someone who it had just caught embezzling?" In a move to appear less sympathetic to the criminal, 92nd Street Y later revoked the severance and benefits. 92nd Street Y now claims this person's employment ended prior to their discovery of this employee's "improper conduct" when in fact they fired the person upon receiving documents that proved the employee was embezzling.

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